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6 Dalits consume pesticide at Collectorate

By Our Staff Reporter

ONGOLE, JULY 19. Six Dalits of Vengamukkalapalem in Ongole mandal here this afternoon attempted suicide by consuming pesticide right in the corridors of the Collectorate protesting against the alleged indifference on the part of officials in sorting out a dispute over a piece of land assigned to them way back in 1970 on the outskirts of the town.

The Dalits, Nathula Hanumantha Rao, Anjaneyulu, Anil Kumar, Chundi Samson, Chundi Babu Rao and Kasumarthy Rajinikanth, all aged between 24 and 30 years, while threatening the Collector, B. Udayalakshmi, that they would take the lives if she did not solve the problem forthwith, consumed pesticide.They were rushed to the district headquarters hospital located just opposite the Collectorate. Later the Collector said arrangements had been made to shift a couple of Dalits who are said to be in a critical condition to Guntur for better treatment.

Talking to The Hindu , she said three ambulances were requisitioned to transport them tonight. They would be accompanied by doctors and senior officials.

The Collector said though she was told by the hospital authorities that all Dalits were out of danger, she was sending them to Guntur for better treatment.

Meanwhile, rumours were making the rounds that one of the Dalits had died at the hospital here. However, the Collector did not confirm it.

It may be recalled here that four Dalits of the village had made an immolation bid on the issue on June 21 in front of the Collectorate. However, alert securitymen had foiled their attempt.

Subsequently, the Collector constituted a three-member committee headed the Joint Collector, G. Balaramaiah, to look into the Dalits' demands. The committee, as part of its efforts to solve the dispute, came out with a formula. As per it, five acres land would be purchased under the land purchase scheme through the SC Corporation and distributed to the 21 Dalit families or five acres already available in Survey No. 122/10/12 at the disputed site would be assigned or Rs. 1 lakh compensation lump sum be given to each Dalit family.

According to the Revenue Divisional Officer, A. Prasad, as the Dalits failed to take possession of the property -- 29.5 acres assigned to them in 1970, a part of the land (ten acres) was sold to employees of different departments for house construction.

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